New artificial limb tech combines skeletal implants with mind control

You may never have heard of Max Ortiz Catalán, but his is a name worth knowing. The researcher and his team at the Chalmers University of Technology in Gothenburg, Sweden are transforming the world of prosthetics. Working with a second team at Sahlgrenska University Hospital, the Chalmers team has created the ultimate artificial limb — one that mimics a real arm by connecting to the patient’s mind as well as his or her body

Catalán’s groundbreaking prosthetic device utilizes the technique of osseo-integration to provide patients with a comfortable-fitting prosthetic. He then adds cutting edge neuro-control to give them almost full control over the limb. Pioneered by Rickard Brånemark and his colleagues at Sahlgrenska University Hospital, osseo-integration takes a different approach to artificial limbs than traditional prosthetic design, which uses a suspension system to attach the arm to a patient. These suspension systems limit the movement of the limb, making it difficult for a patient to lift their arms beyond a certain point.  They also can be so uncomfortable that many patients stop wearing their artificial limb, losing any benefits they would gain from the device.

Osseo-integration overcomes these hurdles, providing mechanical stability by attaching directly to the patient’s bones. The technique uses a titanium anchor that is implanted into the bone, and following this, bone cells grow tightly around the titanium, enabling researchers to attach the prosthesis directly to the skeleton. This technique allows for the comfortable attachment of artificial limbs to the body. It also lets users move their arms in their full range of motion.

Related: This revolutionary 3D scanner digitizes your limbs to make custom braces and casts

With a comfortable limb in place, Max Ortiz Catalán then designed a neuro-control system that takes advantage of the patient’s existing nervous system and musculature. The team uses implanted neuromuscular electrodes that offer improved control over surface implants, which take longer to respond and are affected by external conditions.

Catalán’s implanted electrodes require little muscular effort, and allow patients to move their artificial limbs with both precision and speed.  The internal implants also are impervious to weather conditions, providing patients with the freedom to use their prosthesis outside in the bone-numbing cold of the winter and the searing heat of summer.

The first mind-and-body connected prosthetic device was implanted in a patient in 2013.  The system has remained stable for the past several years, providing both a full range of mechanical movement and offering extra features such as tactile feedback. In the future, the team hopes to integrate additional sensors into the prosthetic to further mimic the complex operations of a limb. They also want to expand their prosthetics beyond the arm and support other areas such as the leg.

Product Review

The Ferrari Portofino is the super stallion you’ll want to drive every day

With the introduction of the Portofino, Ferrari addresses the California T’s stylistic shortcomings while improving comfort, convenience, and performance. There’s little “entry-level” about this super stallion.
Smart Home

Your Instant Pot can do it all. Research says it has another important function

Researchers at Dakota State University tested a variety of pressure cookers for sterilization and found that Instant Pot provides enough pressure and heat to kill off food-spoiling bacteria.
Emerging Tech

Cheese tastes different when it listens to Led Zeppelin, Swiss study finds

A funky new study says that exposing cheese to music changes its aroma and flavor. What’s more, the genre of music matters. Researchers from the Bern University of Arts played music to nine, 22-pound wheels of Emmental cheese.
Home Theater

The best Dolby Atmos movies for your home theater sound as good as they look

If you've got your hands on some sweet Dolby Atmos gear, the next step is to find films that take advantage of it. These are our picks in several genres for the best Dolby Atmos movies currently available on Blu-ray and streaming services.
Emerging Tech

Unexpected particle plumes discovered jetting out of asteroid Bennu

The OSIRIS-REx craft traveled to asteroid Bennu last year and won't return until 2023. But the mission is already throwing up unexpected findings, like plumes of particles which are being ejected from the surface of the asteroid.
Emerging Tech

Trip to Neptune’s moon, Triton, could inform search for extraterrestrial life

NASA has proposed sending a craft to Neptune to study its largest moon, Triton. Studying Triton could offer clues to how liquid water is maintained on planets, which may indicate what to look for when searching for life beyond our planet.
Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: Robotic companions and computer-aided karaoke

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the web this week. You may not be able to buy this stuff yet, but it's fun to gawk!
Emerging Tech

NASA’s Mars 2020 rover passes its tests with flying colors

The Mars 2020 rover team has been undertaking a series of tests to see if the craft will be able to launch, navigate, and land on the Red Planet. Called Systems Test 1, or ST1, these tests represent the first test drive of the new rover.

Light up the night! Here are the five best headlamps money can buy

Headlamps make all the difference when camping or walking the dog at night, especially when you're in need of both hands. From Petzl to Tikkid, here are some of the best headlamps on the market.
Emerging Tech

A hive of activity: Using honeybees to measure urban pollution

According to a new study from Vancouver, bees could help us understand urban pollution. Scientists have found an innovative way to measure the level of source of pollution in urban environments: by analyzing honey.
Emerging Tech

Spacewalk a success as astronauts upgrade batteries on the ISS

The International Space Station was treated to some new batteries on Friday, thanks to two NASA astronauts who took a spacewalk for nearly seven hours in order to complete the upgrades.
Emerging Tech

Asteroid Ryugu is porous, shaped like a spinning top, and is formed of rubble

The Japanese Space Agency has been exploring a distant asteroid named Ryugu with its probe, Hayabusa 2. Now the first results from study of the asteroid are in, with three new papers published.
Emerging Tech

Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No, it’s a super-speedy pulsar

A super-speedy pulsar has been spotted dashing across the sky, discovered using NASA’s Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope and the Very Large Array. The pulsar is traveling at a breathtaking 2.5 million miles an hour.
Emerging Tech

Chilean telescope uncovers one of the oldest star clusters in the galaxy

An ultra-high definition image captured by the Gemini South telescope in Chile has uncovered one of the oldest star clusters in the Milky Way. The cluster, called HP 1, could give clues to how our galaxy was formed billions of years ago.